Thursday, November 29, 2012
Rio Grande Valley Brother and Sister Sentenced to Prison for Health Care Fraud in Case Investigated by State and Federal OfficialsThe U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas issued the following news release on Nov. 28, 2012:
McAllen – Velma Alaniz, 31, and her brother Valente Alaniz, 27, both of Palmview, have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid through fraudulent billings for power wheelchairs, incontinent supplies and other medical items, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Velma Alaniz, an owner of Ace Medical Equipment and Supplies, a McAllen-area durable medical equipment (DME) business, and her brother Valente, manager of Ace Medical, were both convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Dec. 7, 2011, after pleading guilty before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane.
Following the sentencing hearing that began on Nov. 19-20 and concluded today, Judge Crane ordered Velma and Valente Alaniz to serve 24 and 37 months in prison, respectively. Both will be placed on supervision for a period of three years following their release from prison. Judge Crane also ordered them to repay Medicare and the Texas Medicaid program the sum of $159,557.43.
At their plea hearing in December 2011, Velma and Valente Alaniz admitted to conspiring to submit false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare and Medicaid programs related to Ace Medical’s purported sale of power wheelchairs to Medicare and Medicaid patients. In numerous claims for a power wheelchairs, the defendants represented to Medicare and Medicaid that the items were prescribed by the patients’ physicians and had been delivered to the patients when, in fact, the defendants knew that both of these representations were false. In other instances, the defendants submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid that represented that power wheelchairs had been delivered to patients when, instead, less expensive scooters were delivered to the patients. The defendants also billed for incontinent and other medical supplies which had not been prescribed by the patients doctors.
The defendants also admitted that, in an attempt to conceal and cover up their fraud, they falsified and forged physicians’ medical orders and examination reports, as well as a variety of other Medicare and Medicaid-related documents that were kept in Ace Medical’s patients’ files. In addition, in 2010 when investigators requested patient files from Ace Medical pertaining to a number of Medicare and Medicaid patients, Velma Alaniz instructed Valente Alaniz to “fix” the patients’ files to make the fraudulent power wheelchair claims appear to be mere billing errors.
Judge Crane allowed the pair to remain on bond and to voluntarily surrender to the United States Marshals Service on Jan. 4, 2013.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Special Assistant United States Attorney Rex Beasley and former Assistant United States Attorney Greg Saikin prosecuted the case.